Let's just cut to the chase. How can anyone not want to go to Iceland? I mean, seriously. Iceland's name alone screams out to you for a wide-eyed visit. Like many people out there I'd imagine, from the time I first heard the word Iceland, I was really curious about the place and I'm guessing I wouldn't have been so interested if it was named something like The Republic of North Atlantica. Just sayin'.
Is the entire country one big sheet of ice? Do they like lots of ice in their drinks? Are Ice T, Vanilla Ice, and Ice Cube worshiped as some sort of god-like figures there? Well, we arrived in January prepared to find out the answers to these questions and some real ones too.
From the moment I spotted the frosty waves of the Atlantic crashing against Iceland's sooty soil from the plane, I couldn't believe I was actually there. Funnily, it's the kind of place where even when you are there, you still don't believe it. As you're walking around Reykjavik, the city you know is the capital of the nation of Iceland, looking at signs in the Icelandic language, your mind still tries to trick you into thinking that maybe you've landed in a place that's similar to Iceland like Norway or Alaska, but not really in Iceland. Because after all, being in Iceland would be too crazy. But yet there you are.
Essentially, our trip to Iceland was a three night layover on the way back to the States, so we knew we couldn't get a ton of things done. We pretty much just wanted to walk around Reykjavik, go to the Blue Lagoon, and see the Northern Lights, and I'm happy to report that we were lucky enough to pull all three of them off. Reykjavik is a rustic little harbor town, and its Hallgrímskirkja Church is really the only sight on the skyline. It is an awesome church though, that exudes solemn Norse charm. I was a big fan of the Leif Erikson statue out front that was given as a gift from the United States, as I've always respected the work he did stepping foot on North American soil 500 years before Christoper Columbus.
The Blue Lagoon, a stony and steamy geothermal bath, was something out of another world. It's really famous and overrun by tourists and all that cool stuff, but somehow that didn't take away from the experience one iota. We frolicked around in the balmy blue waters for hours just shaking our head at how crazy it was to be there. Or was that to get the mud masks off?
While wading in the Blue Lagoon and walking around Reykjavik are slam dunks to tick off a to-do list, the Northern Lights are a fickle phenomenon, and you need a little luck on your side to see them. You see, even as far north as Iceland is, you are never guaranteed to see them. What you end up doing in the end is paying for a bus with a tour guide who drives you out into the country, leaves you in a field, and then instructs you to look up. I'm not joking. Luckily after seeing a dull green glow in the sky for an hour or so, the lights came out to play and while their appearance was briefer than I would have liked, I was still marveled. They came, went, then at one point danced across the sky, and although the moment was more fleeting than I was dreaming of and the pictures I took were slightly cruder than I was hoping for, it was unmistakably the Northern Lights, and it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.
The only reason I can think of for not wanting to go to Iceland is that it is too cold there, but we all know the story about how the Vikings named it Iceland just to scare people off, so don't be one of them. Be scared to visit Greenland, that's the really cold one.
"Cold As Ice" by Foreigner